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Mysterious SiB3: Identifying the Relation between α- and β-SiB3
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry (MMK).
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry (MMK).
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Number of Authors: 122019 (English)In: ACS omega, ISSN 2470-1343, Vol. 4, no 20, p. 18741-18759Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Binary silicon boride SiB3 has been reported to occur in two forms, as disordered and nonstoichiometric alpha-SiB3-x, which relates to the alpha-rhombohedral phase of boron, and as strictly ordered and stoichiometric beta-SiB3. Similar to other boron-rich icosahedral solids, these SiB3 phases represent potentially interesting refractory materials. However, their thermal stability, formation conditions, and thermodynamic relation are poorly understood. Here, we map the formation conditions of alpha-SiB3-x and beta-SiB3 and analyze their relative thermodynamic stabilities. alpha-SiB3-x is metastable (with respect to beta-SiB3 and Si), and its formation is kinetically driven. Pure polycrystalline bulk samples may be obtained within hours when heating stoichiometric mixtures of elemental silicon and boron at temperatures 1200-1300 degrees C. At the same time, alpha-SiB3-x decomposes into SiB6 and Si, and optimum time-temperature synthesis conditions represent a trade-off between rates of formation and decomposition. The formation of stable beta-SiB3 was observed after prolonged treatment (days to weeks) of elemental mixtures with ratios Si/B = 1:11:4 at temperatures 1175-1200 degrees C. The application of high pressures greatly improves the kinetics of SiB3 formation and allows decoupling of SiB3 formation from decomposition. Quantitative formation of beta-SiB3 was seen at 1100 degrees C for samples pressurized to 5.5-8 GPa. beta-SiB3 decomposes peritectoidally at temperatures between 1250 and 1300 degrees C. The highly ordered nature of beta-SiB3 is reflected in its Raman spectrum, which features narrow and distinct lines. In contrast, the Raman spectrum of alpha-SiB3-x is characterized by broad bands, which show a clear relation to the vibrational modes of isostructural, ordered B6P. The detailed composition and structural properties of disordered alpha-SiB3-x were ascertained by a combination of single-crystal X-ray diffraction and Si-29 magic angle spinning NMR experiments. Notably, the compositions of polycrystalline bulk samples (obtained at T <= 1200 degrees C) and single crystal samples (obtained from Si-rich molten Si-B mixtures at T > 1400 degrees C) are different, SiB2.93(7) and SiB2.64(2), respectively. The incorporation of Si in the polar position of B-12 icosahedra results in highly strained cluster units. This disorder feature was accounted for in the refined crystal structure model by splitting the polar position into three sites. The electron-precise composition of alpha-SiB3-x is SiB2.5 and corresponds to the incorporation of, on average, two Si atoms in each B-12 icosahedron. Accordingly, alpha-SiB3-x constitutes a mixture of B10Si2 and B11Si clusters. The structural and phase stability of alpha-SiB3-x were explored using a first-principles cluster expansion. The most stable composition at 0 K is SiB2.5, which however is unstable with respect to the decomposition beta-SiB3 + Si. Modeling of the configurational and vibrational entropies suggests that alpha-SiB3-x only becomes more stable than beta-SiB3 at temperatures above its decomposition into SiB6 and Si. Hence, we conclude that alpha-SiB3-x is metastable at all temperatures. Density functional theory electronic structure calculations yield band gaps of similar size for electron-precise alpha-SiB2.5 and beta-SiB3, whereas alpha-SiB3 represents a p-type conductor.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 4, no 20, p. 18741-18759
National Category
Chemical Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-176518DOI: 10.1021/acsomega.9b02727ISI: 000496814700031PubMedID: 31737836OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-176518DiVA, id: diva2:1381042
Available from: 2019-12-20 Created: 2019-12-20 Last updated: 2020-02-20Bibliographically approved

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Eklöf, DanielJaworski, AleksanderPell, Andrew J.Grins, JekabsHäussermann, Ulrich
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